South Africa win First ODI

South Africa beat West Indies by 6 wickets in the rain-shortened opening one-day international at Centurion Park, thanks to a mostly disciplined bowling performance over 36 overs and a fine 79* from Jean-Paul Duminy. At times during the chase – especially as rain begun to fall and DuckworthLewis looked almost certain to be brought into play – the game seemed to be slipping from the home side’s grasp, but Duminy came through to play his first innings of real authority at the ODI level and win the game for his side.

South Africa’s chase had got off to a shocking start when Graeme Smith dragged Daren Powell on in the opening over, and AB de Villiers attempted a pull stroke to a Fidel Edwards delivery far too full for the shot to be caught by Marlon Samuels running back from backward-point. Jacques Kallis, however, ensured that South Africa’s big three (Mark Boucher’s 28 was the highest average from number four downwards) did not fail completely, and helped Duminy repel some on-the-spot bowling from Powell and Edwards.

South Africa’s Powerplay overs, numbering 13 in total, had nearly been spent when drizzle, which had delayed the start by nearly 3 hours, returned and gradually got heavier. The DL method only comes into play when 20 overs have been bowled, and at one point it appeared possible that even that would not happen – floodlights had been switched-on after less than 10 overs of the reply. When Kallis was dismissed for 24 – getting a high leading-edge to a ball that stayed in the pitch from Ravi Rampaul to be caught by Denesh Ramdin – West Indies were firmly in the box-seat, 59 for 3 at the start of the 16th.

Duminy and Justin Ontong – playing his first ODI for 2 years after Herschelle Gibbs asked to be excused from the match on personal grounds – struggled at first against Rampaul and Darren Sammy. However, the impending 20-over “game” mark appeared to galvanise the pair, and though their side were behind as the mark passed, they nudged ahead the following over and never looked back. The drizzle slowly relented, easing conditions slightly but leaving a damp ground which forced caution in the outfield and made gripping the ball difficult. The two rookies – aged 23 and 28 – eventually put-on 59, doubling the score which had been notched when they came together.

Dwayne Bravo had said at the toss that he was still not fit to bowl due to his side-strain, but with 12 overs left and the pendulum rapidly swinging away from his side, the captain elected to grasp the bull by the horns. After a wide first-up, he made the breakthrough with his first legitimate delivery, when Ontong fell for 23 in similar fashion to Kallis, attempting to turn a ball to leg, closing the face too early, and popping the ball up. This time, however, it required a spectacular diving catch from the bowler to complete the dismissal, and with 58 still required from 12, the home side had work still to do.

Duminy and Boucher, however, showed judicious composure, and Bravo struggled, having thrown most of his cards in early when rain appeared likely to cause an early finish. Powell and Edwards could not recapture their earlier form in their 3 later overs, Rampaul and Darren Sammy were easily knocked around, and the captain’s side-strain could not be completely shrugged-off as he conceded 28 from his eventual 4 overs. Victory arrived with 2 overs in hand.

West Indies’ batsmen had encountered even more difficulty after Graeme Smith delightedly stuck them in upon winning the toss after the delay. Devon Smith and Brenton Parchment – one-time openers for West Indies under-19s – were reunited at the top of the order after 6-and-a-half years. The re-union was not a happy one, however; though they put-on 26, neither batsman looked comfortable against the swing and seam of Shaun Pollock and Dale Steyn. Somewhat inevitably, Steyn had Devon Smith caught at slip by his South African namesake (and fellow left-handed opener). Pollock (who bowled 7 overs off the reel for 19) soon removed Parchment to a perhaps slightly questionable decision from Rudi Koertzen, as the ball appeared to be slipping very close to the edge of leg-stump.

Andre Nel, expensive compared to the openers and the immaculate Charl Langeveldt (whose first 5 overs cost just 9, excellent in a 50-over game, truly superb in a 36-over one), managed to extract the vital wickets of Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Samuels, who had lost-out on a run thanks to his own inflated expectations after a hit failed to reach the boundary the previous ball, dragged-on an attempted cut stroke. Soon after, Chanderpaul cut a wide ball in the air straight to de Villiers at backward-point.

68 for 4 became 81 for 6 as Bravo inside-edged an attempted flick to leg (to a ball well outside off) from Langeveldt, and Ramdin attempted to flay Albie Morkel through the off only to get another thin nick to Boucher. West Indies still had 14.3 overs in the locker and were in serious danger of wasting them.

That they did not was thanks to Runako Morton and Sammy. Morkel’s first 5 overs had cost a respectable 23, but he had Sammy dropped by substitute Johan Botha at long-on in his 6th – that would have been 139 for 7 – and things only went downhill from there. Though Morton was run out for an unobtrusive 41 in the following over, Sammy had already struck Morkel for a flat-batted, flat six over long-off 2 balls after being dropped and he struck two more maximums in the Titans all-rounder’s next over, meaning he ended with the rather more precarious figures of 7-57-1.

There was a clatter of 3 wickets in Steyn’s final over – Rampaul and Sammy (for a run-a-ball 51) run out and Powell bowled off his pads – meaning West Indies were all-out with a ball remaining. 175, while representing a good recovery, appeared well short of a total to test the home team. As it happened, though, they had to fight most of the way to reach it. The series now moves to Cape Town, and the teams will contest a daynight match at Newlands on Friday.

West Indies 175 (35.5 overs)
Runako Morton 41, Darren Sammy 51
Shaun Pollock 7-19-1, Dale Steyn 7.5-24-2, Charl Langeveldt 7-23-1

South Africa 176 for 4 (34 overs)
Jean-Paul Duminy 79*

South Africa won by 6 wickets

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